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Agreement reached on banning forced labour products in the EU market, the S&Ds flagship proposal

Date

05 Mar 2024

Sections

InfoSociety

Last night a successful conclusion was reached to ban products made with forced labour from entering the EU market. The negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the new EU law, which the Socialists and Democrats were at the forefront of demanding and shaping. We welcome its broad scope to ensure it captures all products made with forced labour, and the clear provisions on addressing state-imposed forced labour. The good institutional balance between the Commission and member states in implementing the legislation will ensure that the EU is ready to take the lead globally.

The Socialists and Democrats proudly initiated this fight to create a robust instrument to ban products made with forced labour from entering the EU market. The S&D Group’s negotiators achieved strong provisions to gather information on the ground and address any non-cooperation from companies or third countries as well as a commitment by all institutions to ensure that sufficient resources will be made available to enforce the regulation.

Under the new rules, the Commission will be able to carry out investigations into cases of forced labour outside the European Union, while member states will carry out investigations within the EU. 

Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques, S&D MEP and co-rapporteur of the forced labour ban in the committee on the internal market and consumer protection (IMCO), said:

“With today’s agreement, the European Union will finally have an instrument to make sure that products made with forced labour have no place in the EU Single Market. This has been an ongoing key demand from the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament during the current mandate. It is a victory for our Group and for all of us!

“The prevalence of forced labour products on our market is becoming ever more apparent, most notably with products made with Uyghur forced labour. This is unacceptable. We can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening in our supply chains. We are fighting for an EU that does not turn its back on people and their dignity. It’s high time to end this form of modern slavery.

“This new law will be product-based, not company-based, meaning that all companies will have to comply with the ban if forced labour is detected at some step in their supply chain. This is definitely good news for all companies that suffer from unfair competition from companies that use forced labour.”

Raphaël Glucksmann, S&D MEP and shadow rapporteur on this file in the committee on international trade (INTA), said:

“As Socialists and Democrats, we can be proud today. After years of civic mobilisation and political battles, after months of difficult negotiations, we finally have a deal on the first-ever European law to block products made with forced labour. We had asked for it as a group, then we led the process in the Parliament and we reached a deal. 28 million people worldwide are forced into labour and the least we can do to end this is to ban the products of their enslavement from our market. In our European stores, there must be no room for products stained by Uyghur forced labour or any other forced labour.

“It is particularly important to have secured specific provisions on state-imposed forced labour. A late offensive from the French government has obtained a problematic derogation on critical supply chains and we have struggled to limit the damage.

“The objective was to have a legislation before the end of this mandate. We now urge member states to respect the deal reached with the Belgian presidency, and finalise the new law as soon as possible, contrary to what was done on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD). Our fight against forced labour continues!”

Note to editors:

It is estimated that in 2021, almost 28 million people worldwide were in forced labour – 3 million more than in 2016. With this new law, the European Union will finally have an efficient instrument to help eradicate forced labour.

The agreement still needs to be approved by a full plenary of the European Parliament and the Council of member states.

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